Tick Notes

Ticks So Small... They Crawl Right Through Your Socks!

All ticks come in small, medium, and large sizes; officially these life stages are termed larva, nymph and adult (male and female), respectively. But just how small is small?

We've heard words like -- tiny, miniscule, microscopic, tick dust, seed tick, grain of sand, can't see 'ums - to describe larval ticks. We've also heard expletive comments (a lot) related to people's larval tick exposures. But these ticks are so small, they even can crawl right through your socks!! (but probably not nylon stockings). One of the biggest problems with larval ticks is that you rarely encounter just one. Stories that include “tick nest” usually end up being about larval ticks. Some people end up finding hundreds biting them from a single encounter. We've found a few hundred attached and feeding to the toes of a dog.

Mostly noninfective right out of the egg, larval ticks have been found to be carrying disease agents like the newly recognized human pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi, the agent of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Rickettsia rickettsiae), and the cattle parasite Babesia bovis. Larval tick bites also have been linked to meat allergies Pathogen transmission leading to infection following larval tick bites is probably a rare event... but it can happen.

One way to protect yourself from ticks that can crawl through your socks is to always wear tick repellent socks when outside in tick habitat. Socks pre-treated with permethrin are a terrific way to keep these tiny blood suckers from biting you. And using a product like Bayer's Resultix is an effective way to kill attached larvae on your dog's feet (not yours though).